Russian institutions have responded to a call from а public movement for joint efforts to identify cryptocurrency transfers related to drug trade. The anti-drug organization, Stopnarkotik, recently asked the interior ministry and the central bank to investigate alleged connections between U.S.-sanctioned crypto exchange Suex and a darknet market operating in the region.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation (MVD) and Bank of Russia have agreed to cooperate with the All-Russian Public Movement Stopnarkotik on identifying financial flows involving cryptocurrencies obtained as a result of drug sales. The Russian online news portal Lenta.ru reported on the agreement, quoting a letter from a high-ranking MVD official.
The letter signed by Major General Andrei Yanishevsky, head of the Drug Control Department at the Interior Ministry, has been issued after a working meeting with representatives of the anti-drug organization. It comes in response to Stopnarkotik’s call for the two institutions to carry out an investigation focused on Suex, a Russia-based OTC crypto broker, and its links to other companies and banks.
In September, the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted the Czech-registered entity Suex OTC s.r.o. which operates out of physical offices in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The crypto platform is suspected of processing hundreds of millions of dollars in coin transactions related to scams, ransomware attacks, darknet markets, and the infamous Russian BTC-e exchange.
Since launching in 2018, Suex is believed to have received over $481 million in BTC alone. Close to $13 million came from ransomware operators such as Ryuk, Conti, and Maze, over $24 million was sent by crypto scams like Finiko, $20 million came from mixers, and another $20 million from darknet markets such as the Russia-targeting Hydra, blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis detailed in a report.
In its request to the Russian authorities, following the announcement of the U.S. sanctions, Stopnarkotik noted that Suex had been “involved in money laundering for the largest drug-selling platform.” The organization pointed out that the market’s drug trafficking in the Russian Federation amounts to an estimated $1.5 billion a year or more.
It also mentioned the name of one of Suex’s co-founders and highlighted its alleged connections with other crypto companies and financial institutions such as Exmo, a major digital asset exchange in Eastern Europe, financial services company Qiwi, a leading payment provider in Russia and the CIS countries, as well as the Ukraine-based Concord Bank.
Stopnarkotik asked Bank of Russia to provide its assessment on the matter, check if the operations of Suex and other entities are being conducted in accordance with the law in Russia, and consider blocking Russian payments to a Ukrainian organization.
“We received a response from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Central Bank. We also had a personal meeting with the Ministry of Internal Affairs so that they had an understanding of how we receive information, including about money laundering,” the movement’s chairman, Sergei Polozov, has been quoted as saying. He added that the Russian Interior Ministry is ready to accept Stopnarkotik’s data and work together with the organization.
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